“In his light we see the light.” Do we really?

 Christians have been called out of darkness into light. There are many passages in the New Testament on the light granted to believers. Here are a few:

2 Corinthians 4:6 – For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:8 – For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.

Hebrews 12:18 – For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

 One of the most remarkable Christian writers of the 17th century was Hugh Binning (1627–1653). Binning describes the sun “as the very spring and fountain of life to all sublunary things.” “How much is that true, he continues of the the light, of the substantial, of whom this sun is but a shadow!…there may be something of the infallibility and incomprehensibility of the divine majesty here represented. For though nothing be clearer than the light, yet there is nothing in its own nature darker than light, that which is so manifest to the eyes, how obscure is it to the understanding. Many debates and inquiries have been about it, but yet it is not known what that is by which we know all things. Certainly such is the divine light. It is inconceivable and inexpressible, therefore is he said to dwell in light inaccessible and full of glory, 1 Tim. vi. 16.”

 Before I quote 1 Timothy vi:16 and its context, here is 1 John 1:5-6: “This is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” We are required to walk in the light, yet in one sense this light is an unapproachable light, as we read in 1 Timothy 4:16:

“13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. “

How is it possible to have fellowship (another way of saying “walk in the light”) with the unapproachable? In 1 John 1:5-6, we read: “This is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”

Binning explains that there are two kinds of darkness, one in the unbeliever and one in the believer. [My clarifications are in square brackets].

“There is a twofold darkness that hinders us [believers and unbelievers] to see God, a darkness of ignorance in us [unbelievers], and a darkness of inaccessible light in him [believers]. [Binning now describes unbelievers] The one is a veil upon our hearts, which blinds and darkens the souls of men, that they do not see that which is manifest of God even in his works. O that cloud of unbelief that is spread over our souls, which hinders the glorious rays of that divine light to shine into them. This darkness Satan contributes much to, who is the prince of darkness, 2 Cor. iv. 4.”

[ 2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God].

“This, continues Binning, makes the most part of souls [of unbelievers] like dungeons within, when the glorious light of the gospel surrounds them without. This earthliness and carnality of our hearts makes them like the earth, receive only the light in the upper and outward superfice, and not suffer it to be transmitted into our hearts to change them. But when it pleaseth him, who at the first, by a word of power, commanded light to shine out of darkness, he can scatter that cloud of ignorance, and draw away the veil of unbelief, and can by his power and art, so transform the soul, as to remove its earthly quality, and make it transparent and pure, and then the light will shine into the heart, and get free access into the soul.”

Psalm 36 speaks of this light: “7. How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8  They feast on the abundance of your house,
 and you give them drink from the river of your delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.” The question is: what is this light we see? Binning explains:

But though this darkness were wholly removed, there is another darkness, that ariseth not from the want of light, but from the excessive superabundance of light, caligo lucis nimiae, that is, a divine darkness, a darkness of glory, such an infinite excess and superplus of light and glory above all created capacities, that it dazzles and confounds all mortal or created understandings. We see some shadows of this, if we look up to the clear sun. We are able to see nothing for too much light.”

You might have noticed earlier, that Hugh Binning lived 26 years. His writings are some of the finest ever produced. So many there were, in previous centuries, of Christian missionaries, pastors, theologians and faithful believers who were cut off from this life at an early age. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33).

The kindle edition of Binning’s works are free and can be found here. Here is Binning again .  What a sublime combination of philosophy, poetry and the great Light. It is from a sermon by Hugh Binning on  1 John 1:5 “God is light.”

Taste and see that the Light is good:

“The light is, as it were, a visible appearance of the invisible God. He hath covered his invisible nature with this glorious garment, to make himself in a manner visible to man. It is true, that light is but, as it were, a shadow of that inaccessible light, umbra Dei. It is the dark shadow of God, who is himself infinitely more beautiful and glorious. But yet, as to us, it hath greater glory and majesty in it, than any creature besides. It is the chief of the works of God, without which the world would be without form and void. It is the very beauty of the creation, that which gives lustre and amiableness to all that is in it, without which the pleasantest this beautiful structure, and adorned palace of the world, a loathsome dungeon. Besides the admirable beauty of it, it hath a wonderful swift conveyance throughout the whole world, the upper and lower, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. It is carried from the one end of heaven to the other in a moment, and who can say by what way the light is parted? Job xxxviii. 24. Moreover, it carries alongst with it a beautiful influence, and a refreshing heat and warmness, which is the very life and subsistence of all the creatures below.”

“And so, as there is nothing so beautiful, so nothing so universally and highly profitable. And to all this, add that singular property of it, that it is not capable of infection, it is of such absolute purity, that it can communicate itself to the dunghill, as well as to the garden, without receiving any mixture from it. In all the impurities it meets withal, it remains unmixed and untainted, and preserves its own nature entire. Now you may perceive, that there is nothing visible that is fitter to resemble the invisible God, than this glorious, beautiful, pure, and universally communicable creature, light . Then add unto this, to make up the resemblance fuller, the bounty and benignity of his influence upon the world, the flowings forth of his infinite goodness, that enrich the whole earth. Look, as the sun is the greatest and most universal benefactor,-his influence and heat is the very renovation of the world. It makes all new, and green, and flourishing; it puts a youth upon the world, and so is the very spring and fountain of life to all sublunary things.”‘


6 thoughts on ““In his light we see the light.” Do we really?

  1. Thanks for the resource link Bography. On a side note on Christologies in the O.T.:

    In Paul’s charge to Timothy he mentions the Father and Son of the Divine Godhead. Verse 16 states that God the Father cannot be seen. My question is who was the “Lord God” in Genesis 3 who was walking in the garden while Adam and Eve hid? If they hid, it presumes a visible figure they could see. The interrogation also with Adam and Eve presuppose a normal visible person. Who was this “Lord God”? I submit it was the same one who said: “before Abraham was born I Am.” The Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Frances, I am reminded of John 9; the last verse is the clincher.

      Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

      24 A second time they (the Pharisees) summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

      25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

      26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

      27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

      28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

      30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

      34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

      35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

      36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

      37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

      38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

      39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

      40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

      41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

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